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Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Not (Just) a Beginner Book

           Before posting announcements about my new book, Familiar Unto Me: Witches Sorcerers and Their Spirit Companions, my last blog post was about intermediate and advanced books and training.

          People often bemoan the lack of advanced books on magic and NeoPaganism. It's easier to write beginner books, and with a beginner book, you don't have to wonder if people will have the background to understand or use what you're writing. It's still important to have books that move out of that beginner comfort zone.

          In my post on intermediate and advanced materials, two of the options for advanced work and advanced material were either perfection of basic elements or in depth focused exploration of a specific subject.

          Familiar Unto Me falls into the latter category. The text covers just about everything you could cover on familiars and treats ideas often related to familiars. We look at practical elements, the nature of the idea and the nature of the relationship. We explore the history of ideas and beliefs that build a worldview in which familiar spirits can exist. We look at several options for acquiring them across several different approaches to magic. We look in depth at a particular case of a group working with a familiar, and we look at how familiar spirits can tie into efforts to create new living traditions of spirit work.

          It is a deep dive that covers a broad range of elements of a specific topic.

          So the book is well suited to intermediate and advanced audiences because of its thorough treatment of a singular topic. It can also be useful for beginners, not necessarily people reading their first book or two, but people who are starting off and figuring things out. Exploring specific topics in depth can still be useful and interesting in that phase. This will also introduce a lot of more intermediate concepts, ideas, and practices, which will give readers who are still in the beginning phases of their explorations some direction around where to explore. Since it covers a range of traditions, it will still serve the beginner who wants to add work with a familiar to their spiritual experience.

          It does not introduce beginner techniques. There is no grounding or shielding, there is no work on energy, or scrying, or clairvoyance. We don't introduce what conjuration is, or what spirits are, or how to communicate with them. Readers intending to work the material in this book will need some skills and knowledge in those areas. This post will include some suggestions at the end for books which will help establish those elements for people who need them.

          The book does cover all the elements needed to acquire a familiar in several systems of magic, and so anyone with basic magic skills will find a method which is workable for them.

          It also breaks down benefits and difficulties of different types of spirit work. While this is an underexplored discussion, it's important, and well suited to intermediate practitioners trying to decide what directions to focus on. This will also be useful in guiding beginners who are starting to explore spirit work.

          The wide range of perspectives addressed and the far reaching depth of exploring every corner of the idea of familiars means the book has a wide range of audiences it can serve, but will also have material that just isn't for some of its readers. Hopefully, people will appreciate the thoroughness and enjoy the parts that are relevant to them, and find interest in looking at approaches outside of their practice. With this wide range, while the book serves advanced and intermediate practitioners, it has a lot to offer for those starting their journey as well.

          If you find yourself looking for an introduction to some of the elements and skills that underlie this book and the practices contained, here are some options. You don't need all of these. Most readers will be ready to pick up Familiar Unto Me and just run with it, but if you're feeling like you need some more background, any one or two of these will probably close the gaps.


The Sorcerer's Secrets: Strategies in Practical Magic by Jason Miller - a general introduction to the skills and practices of modern sorcerers


Living Spirits: A Guide to Magic in a World of Spirits by BJ Swain - includes introductions to scrying and spirit conjuration and explains a wide range of spirits and how to work spirits into practical magic


Seven Spheres by Rufus Opus - an immersive, potentially initiatic, approach building relationships through spirit conjuration designed to be simple and user friendly. Introduces new students to conjuration and spirit work


Luminarium: A Grimoire of Cunning Conjuration by BJ Swain - avoids a lot of theory and ideas and focuses on laying out simple skill building practices to make you more capable at spirit conjuration. Provides a simple system of spirit conjuration. Designed to be able to take a complete beginner through introducing the idea, using preparatory practices, and gathering tools into readiness for their first conjuration in as little time as possible.


Folk Witchcraft: A Guide to Lore Land and the Familiar Spirit by Roger J Horne - a collection of witchcraft folklore and introduction to witchcraft ideas which can be used for building witchcraft practices drawing on historical content and ideas


Consorting with Spirits: Your Guide to Working with Invisible Allies by Jason Miller - This book covers many elements of spirit work and several useful ideas to consider while exploring spirit work. It presents a couple approaches to working with spirits. Many of the ideas and practices here can be pair with approaches to working with a familiar. 

Sex Sorcery and Spirit: The Secrets of Erotic Magic by Jason Miller - will introduce elements of sexual magic which may help the magician with spirit work and provide more background for those looking to use the sex magic practices described in Familiar Unto Me

Image: High King Margo. From SYFY's The Magicians. Went with this photo because Margo is in grad school for magic, so it fits the theme of intermediate and advanced work...also...Margo is the ultimate bad ass and I'd be honored to have her reading my work on Familiars. 

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